Rankin hopes to reach Test heights
Being big and bad has helped many bowlers to a successful Test career and Boyd Rankin hopes his main selling points can help him become the next.
At 6ft 7in, Rankin is brushing shoulders with contemporaries whose ability to look down on others has helped them into Test cricket. Steve Harmison, Chris Tremlett and Steve Finn have all recently been picked for England on their height and aggression (at least with the ball in hand) and Rankin also offers those qualities.
Alongside focusing on the 2013 season with County Champions Warwickshire, Test cricket is Rankin's main aim after he ended his career with Ireland following the World T20 in Sri Lanka last September. Rankin, 28 and from Londonderry in Northern Ireland, now wants to play for England.
"I've always said I'd love to play Test cricket," Rankin told ESPNcricinfo. "I retired from Ireland to try and concentrate a bit more on Warwickshire. It got to the stage where I was playing all year round with Ireland, Warwickshire and England Lions and I wasn't getting a lot of rest and I was picking up a few injuries on the way so I thought the best way to go was to stop playing for Ireland and concentrate on county cricket and see from there.
"I think I bring something different with my height and my size, there's not many guys around that can offer that and I think I've got a chance that way."
Rankin had a good record for Ireland, with 43 wickets in 37 ODIs at 32.34 and 17 wickets at 21.41 in 15 T20s, but he must prove his red-ball skills are good enough for international cricket if he is to force a way past an ever-lengthening queue for a place in the England bowling attack.
His recent returns for Warwickshire have been encouraging. He took 55 first-class wickets at 25.80 in 2011 and was selected for England Lions that summer. He toured with the Lions in Bangladesh before a foot injury checked his progress; his 2012 season was halved and he took 16 wickets at 32.18 on his return.
The problem flared up again after Christmas, ruling Rankin out of the Lions tour to Australia and forcing him to stay in Birmingham and work with Warwickshire bowling coach Graeme Welch.
"He's been great with all the bowlers since he's been here," Rankin said. "I did quite a lot of work with him up until I picked up this injury. I was changing a few things with my action and that was going really well. I'm looking forward to getting that going again. He's worked wonders with the likes of Keith Barker and Chris Wright."
Welch was in the running to become Warwickshire's new director of cricket after Ashley Giles left Edgbaston to become England's one-day coach but was beaten to the position by Giles' former assistant, Dougie Brown. Rankin was sad to see Giles go, having been one of his first signings after joining from Derbyshire in 2008, but can see no trouble with Brown's new regime.
"It's been a very smooth transition over," Rankin said. "The squad is in a good place at the moment. It's just a matter of continuing on the work that was done with Ashley. Dougie is his own man and there have been quite a few things already set in place.
"With the injury, I haven't really been involved as much as I would have liked to but obviously Dougie loves the club and wants the best for every player. But the things are pretty settled and it's been pretty straightforward for him."
Boyd Rankin was speaking from the StreetChance supported by Barclays Spaces for Sports national cricket tournament at the Birmingham NIA. StreetChance is a Cricket Foundation project which uses cricket to engage young people in inner-city areas affected by anti-social behaviour and youth crime. Find out more at www.streetchance.org
Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo